WREDC gets grant
WORTHINGTON -- USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer was in Worthington Friday to present the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. (WREDC) with a $99,900 grant to benefit small businesses within Nobles County.
The grant will combine with WREDC's existing revolving loan fund to benefit small business development and expansion projects.
"The Revolving Loan Fund is a gift that keeps on giving. You start with some money and, as you loan it out and it gets paid back, it continues to grow and it continues to make your community stronger and stronger," Landkamer said during a brief program at the WREDC office.
The $99,900 is a matching grant, meaning that those who qualify for funds will receive 50 percent of their low-interest loan from the grant dollars, and 50 percent from the WREDC. When the business repays the loan, the WREDC revolving loan fund collects 100 percent of the payment.
Glenn Thuringer, manager of economic development and membership services for the WREDC, said the grant dollars will give the agency's revolving loan fund a long-term boost. At the same time, it makes it possible to lend funds for service and retail projects that don't often qualify for grants or low-interest loans.
"It just gives us access to some dollars that we really have been missing," said Thuringer. "A lot of the programs out there makes the retail and service sector fall through the cracks.
"Over the years, we've talked about how a thriving downtown makes for a better community," he added. "This will help give them a chance to get started."
Thuringer emphasized that the money is available to all of the communities in Nobles County.
"I foresee some of our businesses in some of the smaller communities (being interested)," he said. At this time, he is working with some projects, but those are still in the business plan development stage.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar staff representative Chuck Ackman said the funds given to Worthington Friday are "exactly what works in this part of the country" and said it is the bread and butter of local economic development.
"It's the local entrepreneur who's got an idea and he wants to go from working out of his garage to renting some space and employing three people -- that's what these funds are for, and this is what works," Ackman said. "It's the backbone of our economy, it always has been."
"President Obama is really committed to a strong rural economy, and these are some of the ways we can help assist you in making your economy a little stronger," Landkamer said.